After 12 years as athletic director at Stanford, Andy Geiger took over as Maryland's AD on Monday. In an interview yesterday with Evening Sun reporters Ken Murray and Milton Kent, Geiger addressed the issues of Atlantic Coast Conference expansion, Maryland's $3.5 million budget deficit, academics, and coaches Joe Krivak and Gary Williams.
Question: What attracted you to Maryland?
Answer: I came here in 1986 as part of a task force that looked at the university. I liked the place then. I just had a feeling about it that made me feel good. I was asked to come back and consult in August and keep an open mind with regard to my role as a consultant -- would I consider the position?
I liked the president of the university very much. I was impressed with the search committee, which I met in groups of ones and twos. I was impressed with the problems. They are significant and I was impressed with the very real desire to overcome them and try to right the ship, so to speak.
I also had been almost 12 years at Stanford. I had done some very good things at Stanford. I also had my share of difficulties, as we all do in these kinds of positions. I felt that a change for me would be very good. And whether or not Stanford realized it, a change for them might be good.
Q: In view of your opposition to ACC expansion, do you view yourself as a traditionalist or an innovator?
A: In general I thought expansion was an escalation of intercollegiate athletics at a time when we're discussing such things as the length of team trips, the amount of time that youngsters are involved in practice and play, the cost of this business in human and financial terms. And I thought that expansion was flying in the face of this. I thought the subjects were somewhat dichotomous.
There is no question there is an increase in cost for the conference to do these kind of things. The counter point of view is that it's a good piece of business to open the state of Florida up economically [the ACC added Florida State last month]. And from a purely business point of view, it's a good idea.
Q: What do you see for the future of the ACC and college athletics?
A: I see things to worry about. It's urgently important we get this reform legislation [proposals before the NCAA to cut costs and strengthen academics] through. I think we have to get significant improvement in our financial condition, from the point of view of Maryland and from several other schools, or else we're going to see a reduction or an elimination of offerings that we have for the students on our campuses. We will not be able to afford broadly based programs.
If your fundamental belief is that athletics are educationally sound and you're going to play games because kids learn something through the playing games, having less sports is less sound than having a broadly based program. But we're spending so much money on things that we haven't spent money on before.
Q. To cope with a projected $3.5 million deficit in the athletic department, Maryland has gone to a four-tiered budget system, where sports on the lowest tier receive no new scholarships. How comfortable are you with the tiered budget system?
A. I had one at Stanford. I am familiar with the tiered program. If I could do whatever I want to do, if I could be king of everything I see, we'd treat everyone the same. Hopefully, we'd be able to give everybody a scholarship and we'd compete for a national championship in everything. We can't afford it.
I think it's a valiant effort to try to keep activities alive at the universities that continue to have sports and to keep some vestige of the activity going. Hopefully, we can get to the place where we can re-fund something, particularly things that Maryland has had significant tradition in.
Q. Last year at Stanford, you raised $11.75 million. Do you have a specific methodology for fund-raising?
A. The best way to raise money is to get people interested and involved as volunteers, because donors will get other donors a lot faster than the hired help will and a lot more effectively than the hired help will.
Basically, I think the first duty of a state university is to serve the state that supports it. I hope to get around the state and meet people and greet them and get them excited and work with people here to be excited about it.
Q. Will you be comfortable lobbying politicians in Annapolis?
A. I would like to work in a partnership with the central administration of the university in that. I don't want to make folks down the hill angry with me because I'm acting or doing something that crosses purposes with something that may be central to the needs of the entire university.
I expect that I will have an opportunity to meet people in Annapolis and I look forward to that.
That's one of the things that was attractive to me. I've not had an experience at a state university.
Q. Where does Baltimore fit in?